Micro Hits The Big Time
Rookie is not, exactly, the right word for Glenn Hall. Rookie implies inexperience, which is the opposite of what Glenn Hall has. Hall was made in the '80s, on the Tasman Sea, and he's been throwing punches on the comp scene for about a decade and a half. Marked by an endearing humanity and uncommon level-headedness, Hall is short on somatotropin. Well, he's short, period. But he's long on resolution. And heart. And, for that matter, imagination. Glenn Hall is an Aussie surfing under an Irish flag. His right-foot-forward style, characterized by easy speed and sudden bursts of spray, finally landed him on the World Tour this year. He also answers to "Micro."
Hall was born, raised, and currently resides on the Central Coast of New South Wales. Or, at least, that's where he spends time with his family between Tour events. Which is what he's doing when I catch him in April to discuss the competitive life, that persistent nickname, and, naturally, the reason behind his allegiance to the Emerald Isle.
The nickname came first, when Hall was still in primary school. He'd hang with the coffee-drinking old-timers after his early morning surfs.
"They started calling me Micro when I was really little, but ... I am still really little. It just stuck," he says.
Nickname aside, few things were simply handed to Hall. "I was on the qualifying series for probably, I don't know, 10 years before I qualified? So, it was a long road," he says. With a slew of strong finishes in 2012, including a win at the Mr. Price Pro Ballito and a runner-up at the Nike Lowers Pro, he joined the Top 34 at 31 years old.
"I suppose [with] surfing, like all things in life, once you get older, you get a little bit wiser," he says. "You've got a cooler head on your shoulders when things go wrong. I think that's going to be a great advantage for me."
Hall did the junior series with Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson, and has been battling many of his elite competitors for a more than 10 years, but he claims not to have rivals.
"It's funny, one of my best mates, Adrian Buchan, is on Tour," he says. "We had a good, close heat at [the Rip Curl Pro] Bells, but he got me on the hooter. I wouldn't say there's any rivalry at all, but it'd be good to get him back!"
I'm 96 percent sure that all Australians are born with two things: Southern Cross tattoos and a fondness for razzing their friends, so what do Hall's fellow countrymen make of him repping the land of Eire?
"They do [heckle me], I suppose, but I just, kinda… assume they're joking," he laughs. "People know that in surfing, you've got to take your opportunities when they come. For me, it was an opportunity to continue surfing and do something different. A lot of people are more interested than disappointed, really."
Hall grew up with dual citizenship (and an Irish passport), thanks to his Irish grandfather. "When I had no sponsors and wanted a change in my career," he explains, "my wife and I decided that we were going to spend some time over there and just see what happened. In Ireland, you can go anywhere and find a good wave, and the people are really friendly."
European and Irish sponsors were also really friendly and before he knew it, he was representing Ireland in comps. While Hall understands and respects that not everyone agrees with his choice to surf for Ireland, he says, "Every event I go to, there are always people who come running up and they're so stoked because they're not used to going to a WCT [event] and having someone representing their country."
Micro's trajectory has been long, and by most standards, conventional. As surfing evolves, however, fewer young surfers seem to view the points-driven approach as a viable (or possibly just desirable) route to success.
"[Young surfers in Ireland have] guys like Fergal [Smith] to look up to in the big waves and freesurfing," he says. "It would be good if I could give them two paths to look at."
As a guy who's spent half of his life in a jersey, Hall obviously sees value in competitive surfing. One reason being that he feels the changes within the ASP will help ease financial pressure (and open up opportunities) throughout the entire industry.
Two events deep, Hall's posted two equal 25th finishes. He remains positive and simply strives to better himself. "I'd love to start making some heats," he says, laughing, "and going further in the events. There have definitely been some positives in what I've done and I'm happy with how it's going." With eight more comps this year, there's plenty of time to move up the ranking. Hall, who is just as happy to roll the dice with 20-foot slabs as he is to carve four-foot Lowers, is particularly eager for the Billabong Pro Teahupo'o in August.
"I actually did the trials [in Tahiti] three or four years in a row when I was with Billabong," he says. "I missed out by one spot a few years in a row and I just really enjoyed it. Everyone goes to the event wondering how big it's going to be the next day. I think the best thing about competing in big waves [is that] if you are scared, there's no option of not going." Next month's Billabong Rio Pro, isn't likely to offer up many of those situations, but we look forward to seeing what Micro's got up his sleeve.